Doesn’t it just sound awful? It sounds creepy to me, like something that is the catalyst for domestic abuse. It doesn’t sound healthy for a relationship. The band Better than Ezra sings about it in the song “Rosealia”:
Jealousy can rip your heart out.
And jealousy can turn a hand into a fist.
But yet, in Deuteronomy 4:24 from The Message, it says:
God, your God, is not to be trifled with—he’s a consuming fire, a jealous God.
As Nancy Leigh DeMoss says, in her message called The Love of a Jealous God,
Nothing is more important than our view of God. If you get that wrong, you are going to get everything else wrong.
The idea, of God being jealous, has gotten a lot of bad press recently. The height of it, which may have caused thousands of people to turn away from the Lord, was when Oprah declared she couldn’t reconcile God being jealous with God being love. But I submit to you that the two – love and jealousy, are not mutually exclusive in the divine heart. They are one in the same – but we have to have a correct picture of God to understand it.
In human relationships – jealousy stems from an innate desire to be loved. Where things go wrong is when one person is looking to the other to provide all the love they need. One person (or both) is running on empty and desperately trying to find validation and completion from the other person. They might get it for awhile, but humans weren’t built to sustain that in the long run. It is the idea of “soul-mates,” but as any married person will tell you – even if you are perfect together at the start – life happens and you will eventually have to redefine your relationship.
When you seek fulfillment in another person – that only God can provide – you spend all your time and effort trying to squeeze it out of other person. It just isn’t going to happen and so, you start to covet the person’s time and attention. You place demands on them they cannot meet. Human jealousy grows quickly, using tricks like manipulation, force and ultimatums to get its way. It lets you believe you must consume all of the other; that you can control them and bend their will to yours. You will make this person love you, if it kills you both.
In that view, I can see where Oprah went wrong. I can see why people get so hung up on this idea that God is operating like the green-eyed monster. I understand that is hard to match that up with the idea of a faithful, kind, loving Creator. When you view it from the eyes of the flesh, it’s easy to lose what the real picture is about.
What is missing in that understanding of God is purity. God is not tainted by the flesh like we are. God doesn’t need filling – He is already completely full. When we choose to follow Him – that is what He makes us – fulfilled. We find our home, our place, our purpose. There is peace and joy that another person can’t provide. God is a consuming fire – He is consuming all the other things that consume you instead of Him, you can know the fullness of His love. But when we turn our focus from Him, He doesn’t get mad because He needs our love. He gets jealous because He knows the things we turn to are not good for us.
God’s love is so pure, so sacrificial that He is jealous for the best to be real in the lives of His Children. But He doesn’t use force to get His way. He will wait for His children to come back, and then run to when they call. He will put messages in their path, people who speak them back to truth. He loves us the right way – based on the spirit, not the flesh. It is to our detriment the longer we stray from God, not His.
We can have holy jealousy too. I saw it in my friend, who watched her daughter walk a dark path of drugs and teenage sex. Her heart ached because she knew the choices her daughter made would eventually destroy her. She wanted to see her daughter freed from the bondage of that sin, to be filled – like she, herself, was – with the greatness of Jesus and all salvation brings with it.
When you love someone out of the love Christ has shown you – you hunger for them to taste the grace you’ve received. You want them to live in the abundance you’ve been blessed with. You desire for others to be free of the sins that hold them in bondage. You are zealous for them to know the Truth of the Gospel. You would do anything for them to know God like you do but you don’t beat them over the head with it. You pray, you petition and you trust that God will, in His great timing, answer your prayers. That is true love – pure love.
If the Kingdom is going to come, we need to cultivate holy jealousy for the people around us. So go on and be jealous, just as God is for you!